From the Desk of the Executive Director
In February, the Fraternity and Foundation boards met to discuss key elements of Delta Upsilon’s next strategic plan. The Fraternity’s previous plan ended last summer, and the development process for a new one began in late October. This will be my third strategic plan as Executive Director, and upon reflection, I realize that our approach to this plan will require different thinking. In 2007 and 2012, we focused on our mission of Building Better Men and aspirationally thought how DU could add value to the college student experience. The hallmarks of those plans were new and enhanced educational programs, better delivery systems, and measurement. These plans led the Fraternity to unparalleled success.
Today we are still thinking with aspiration and considering what it really means to be a better man, and how to build them. However, at this time in our history, we must pay close attention to the external influences that may affect our vision. I shared with the two boards that more has changed in our environment in the last 18 months than in my first nine years as Executive Director. The pace is rapid. Now more than ever, the relevance of fraternities and sororities is in question. We must consider bold changes in our plans and actions moving forward to ensure our very existence.
Despite the good we do, serious tragedies have put fraternities under the microscope. Campuses are aggressively responding. In the past year, more than 30 campuses implemented some type of temporary suspension on their fraternity/sorority community, many of which experienced no tragedy. Some institutions have questioned the need for single-gender organizations. Others have cut funding for their Greek Life offices.
Delta Upsilon’s leadership realizes that we are only as strong as the fraternity/sorority communities of which we are a part. Recent community-wide suspensions prove that it doesn’t always matter how well a chapter performs; it can be scrutinized and punished for the actions of others. While working to make Delta Upsilon the best it can be, we must also work to improve the entire fraternal community.
In my personal life, one of my greatest passions is cycling. I am frequently asked why you often see packs of cyclists traveling together in a straight line. Drafting plays an important role for a cyclist whether in training or competition. When tucking close behind another rider, you experience less wind resistance,
allowing you to expend less energy than you would riding by yourself. You can ride faster and longer by drafting.
When drafting, the lead rider continually switches. Leading the pack is hard work, and by switching positions with other riders, the load is shared. DU sees ourselves as a leader in the fraternal community. We are regarded as innovators in our field, yet, we know we don’t have all the answers. We recognize we will become stronger by working collaboratively with our peers instead of breaking from the pack.
Delta Upsilon will continue to work with our interfraternal brothers to define the 21st Century fraternity experience. We have begun talks with seven leading peer fraternities to determine the next steps needed to ensure fraternities remain relevant. As we work to bring all of our peers to the same playing field, we must also keep our eye on the future.
Our next strategic plan requires us to be innovative, forward-thinking and a leader of the pack. We have built a robust portfolio of award-winning educational programs, and the next plan will need to consider the environments and conditions that can optimize, or inhibit, our mission of Building Better Men. Serious consideration will be given to how we create spaces that foster high academic achievement, the role of alcohol in the fraternity experience, the safety and wellness of our undergraduates, career preparation, and how to engage more alumni to advise and mentor our young men.
Each fraternity was founded because a group of men desired to impact the lives of others. Fraternities were designed to be havens for thoughtful discussion, the exchange of ideas and the betterment of mankind. DU’s recent success shows organizations can change and be relevant for today’s college student. Since our founding, Delta Upsilon has been a leader and dared to be different. Today is no different. Now is our time to lead, not just for ourselves, but our entire community.
Justin Kirk, Boise State ’00
Delta Upsilon Fraternity and Educational Foundation